Title: The Last Letter from Your Lover
Author: Jojo Moyes
Release Date: July 7, 2011
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Jennifer Stirling wakes up in the hospital with no knowledge of who she is or how she got there. As she recuperates, her memory slowly begins to come back, but she feels like something is missing. She is unfulfilled by life with her husband. Then Jennifer discovers a love letter written to her, one that is clearly not from her husband, and she has to discover who wrote it and why.
While the premise of The Last Letter from Your Lover might seem similar to other recent novels about a woman losing her memory, let me assure you that it is unique. Jennifer is completely lost when the novel begins. She has no memories, though things quickly begin to feel familiar to her. But she isn’t happy and she can’t really figure out why. However, the reader knows exactly what happened to Jennifer before the accident because the book jumps back and forth through time, chapter by chapter, to fill in the blanks. The transition between the time periods is seamless; it never is jarring and exposes Jennifer’s past beautifully.
The Last Letter from Your Lover is set during the 1960s, and Moyes really brings that time period to life for the reader. Having an affair was a very different issue back then; it’s clear that women were expected to stay in their unhappy marriages instead of trying to find some contentment in life. Jennifer is torn by her duty to her husband, who has made sure she has every material comfort in the world, but is emotionally unavailable to her. Should she give up her one chance at happiness and true love because it’s what’s expected of her? It’s a thoughtful treatment of infidelity, especially considering the issue is such a difficult one.
Once Jennifer’s story has unfolded and the plot is quickly reaching its climax, it jumps forward in time again to the present day. While all these different time periods might sound confusing and make the novel seem jumbled, it’s not at all. It’s expertly done, and the choice to move the story forward in time is an ingenious one. It makes the The Last Letter from Your Lover extremely suspenseful, as the reader is desperate to know whether things end happily for Jennifer.
The Last Letter from Your Lover was a surprising novel; from the subject matter, it seems as if it should be slow and self-indulgent, but instead it’s gripping and tightly plotted. The beauty of Moyes’ writing also makes the experience of reading the novel absolutely lovely. It was an impressive novel with well developed characters, and it would make an excellent book club pick.